A God Who Defends

Apr 22, 2016

Jed Zayner

Adrian was placed at Imperio De Amor Children’s Home when he was 10 years old. He got into fights all the time. It was his way of protecting himself and his little brothers. The fights were constant and nothing seemed to calm him down. Yet, after many years of love and individual attention, Adrian’s anger slowly dissipated. He was accepted in to Back2Back’s Hope Program and still reacted with a few bouts of aggression, but in general the anger was gone. God has been working on Adrian’s heart for a long time, healing and restoring, and bringing life to an angry young boy.

Last September, our family arrived in Monterrey, Mexico to serve with Back2Back. After only a few days, the shouts and calls came from the Hope Program boys—they could hardly wait to challenge the staff to a soccer match. I was happy to oblige, and it didn’t take long before the guys and I were laughing and having competitive fun. There were whoops and hollers after someone did a cool trick or blew past someone else.

In the midst of all the commotion, I heard a boy call out, “Flaco, flaco! Aqui, aqui!” which means, “Skinny, skinny! Here, here!”. I turned to identify the caller and saw Adrian. He motioned to his skinny teammate who kicked the ball through the air. Adrian received the ball, beat his defender, and slotted home a goal. He ran back toward the other side of the field, head held high to meet his teammates’ high-fives.

I kept an eye on Adrian for the rest of the game and for the following weeks. On the field, he works very hard on both defense and offense. The other boys listen to him. He treats everyone with respect and dignity, and he leads by example. He does all of this with a quiet, but powerful presence.

The Back2Back staff built a more formalized soccer team called “Los Dos,” and we chose two captains to lead the team. After a few months, the staff decided to include a younger boy as a third captain. I asked our two older captains whom we should choose for the third captain spot and both emphatically said Adrian. After training one day, we asked the captains to announce in front of the group Adrian was going to be the next captain.

The well-loved and respected captains publicly listed the reasons they believed Adrian would be a great captain, “Adrian leads by example, never complains, is respectful of his teammates, respectful of his coaches, and he lives this out in his Hope Program home.” As Adrian was affirmed, you could see his face light up. He couldn’t stop smiling the whole night.

Now, Adrian, the other captains and I meet each week for discipleship and Bible study. We talk about what it means to be a man of God, and we ask Jesus to invade our lives. During this time, Adrian has completely opened up about his difficult beginning at the children’s home.

Just this week I asked Adrian, “What made you stop fighting and defending yourself?”

He immediately responded, “I found Jesus. We had Bible studies at my children’s home and I realized God can defend me better than I can defend myself.”

Jed Zayner serves in Monterrey, Mexico, alongside his wife, Katie, and their three sons. He is passionate about discipleship. Jed works with visiting mission trip teams and mentors the boys in the Hope Program. He also coaches the boys soccer program on Back2Back's campus. Before joining Back2Back staff, Jed played professional soccer for the Columbus Crew, DC United and the San Jose Earthquakes.

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